Are you thinking about investing in underfloor heating for your home?
Some people simply love the idea of having no radiators in their home. After all, what could be more aesthetically pleasing than lots of clean wall space?
Plus, if you like the idea of a constant room temperature in your home, rather than having to rely on radiators that can only heat one part of a room, it could be a great choice!
However, I’ve found that although many of my customers like the idea, they aren’t sure if they can get it or whether it’s just for new build homes. I also get asked what type of flooring it works with, how it’s installed etc.
The main thing to remember here is that we’re talking about a wet system; that is, pipework under the floor that is heated by a gas boiler. Not electric mat heating.
So, below, I’m going to use my 20+ years in central heating to tell you five things you ought to know about underfloor heating.
1. It provides a constant temperature in your desired room
Underfloor heating is very different from having radiators to heat your rooms. For one thing, they provide one constant temperature, so no radiator to stand up against when you come home windswept or covered in snow.
You can’t just blast this type of system up for half an hour, either. It generally takes a little while to warm through the floor.
2. It’s best fitted in a concrete screed under tiled or wooden flooring
Confused about your flooring options? Well, underfloor heating is best fitted in a concrete screed with tiled or wooden flooring on top. It should be set up so the water temperature does not exceed 50 degrees Celsius as this can warp, dry out or damage your flooring. Ensure your floor layer acclimatises your wood or tiles before laying.
Because underfloor heating does involve lifting all your floors, it’s really best for new builds or extensions – unless you’re considering some serious renovation work.
3. You can set your desired temperature for different times of the day
Instead of turning your heating on and off each day, underfloor heating requires you to set a desired temperature for the ‘on’ times and the set back times (‘off’ times). So, realistically if I required my home to be 21 degrees during the evening when I was using the room, I would have the lower set back temperature at around 17 – 18 degrees Celsius. Otherwise it will take too long to heat through the floors.
4. Pipework must be pressure and flow-tested before laying the screed
When it comes to fitting the pipework, it must be pressure and flow-tested for circulation before the concrete screed is laid. Otherwise, if something is wrong, it’ll be too late, and could be costly to rectify.
5. The heating can’t be switched on for 2 – 3 weeks after installing
Once the concrete is laid, the tiling is done, and the boiler is fitted, the underfloor heating can’t be turned on for 2 – 3 weeks. This is to prevent cracks and shrinkage, which can happen if things dry too quickly.
So, you may want to consider installing your underfloor heating in the warmer months!
Advice from an experienced heating engineer
I’d always recommend doing your own research before getting quotes. You’d be surprised how much you will know compared to your average plumber or heating engineer! Get it right and this can be a great system. Get it wrong? It’s a costly mistake, and not easily to rectify.
Hire a contractor that you know has experience fitting underfloor heating, plus the associated manifolds, thermostats and wiring.
I’ve carried out a few of these jobs recently on extensions to properties. The client didn’t realise how careful she had to be with the specification. We got the job, as there was a large open area which would be a lounge, kitchen and dining room. We recommended zoning this, otherwise the kitchen could get too hot whilst the lounge would be too cold.
Finally, we also recommended a towel rail for the shower room,as warm floors = damp towels. Other contractors didn’t even consider these points.
I hope this blog has given you a better idea of what to expect when installing underfloor heating. If you follow all the advice above, you’ll have a superb system that will last for years to come!
Need any help or advice about installing underfloor heating in your home? Don’t hesitate to get in touch, or leave a comment below. I’ll be happy to help!